Kayabaga makes history, retains London West for Liberals

Arielle Kayabaga. Photo from Twitter.

Arielle Kayabaga has won London’s most hotly contested race in the 44th federal election.

The Ward 13 city councillor was declared the projected winner in London West on Monday evening, holding a seat the Liberals have had since Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister in 2015.

She defeated Conservative Rob Flack, Shawna Lewkowitz of the NDP, PPC candidate Mike McMullen, and Libertarian Jacques Boudreau.

The political retirement of Kate Young left the seat open, and it became a target of all three major parties.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh visited the riding on Wednesday of last week, while both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative leader Erin O’Toole made visits on Friday.

“London West wants to move Canada forward. London West wants to see climate action, they want to see $10 childcare, they want to see housing for everyone,” Kayabaga said after being declared the winner. “That’s the vote that we saw tonight.”

It’s a history making win as Kayabaga becomes the first person of colour to represent a London riding federally.

“It’s just a continuum of breaking barriers for a lot of people, for minorities, for people of colour, for Black people, Indigenous people, for anyone who wants to be fighting for change in their communities,” she said. “Continue to shatter those glass ceilings.”

Kayabaga also ends a streak that goes all the way back to 1993. Pat O’Brien was the last current or former member of London City Council to be elected to a federal or provincial seat – despite a more than a dozen attempts at the jump by the likes of Roger Caranci, Paul Van Meerbergen, Cheryl Miller, and Judy Bryant in various elections since.

“I guess the curse is broken now,” Kayabaga joked to Blackburn News on Monday evening. “The most important conversation tonight is that London West wants a mandate that moves Canadians forward.”

She’ll be part of a Liberal minority government, which will mean legislation will need approval from other parties to pass.

“The best training I got for that was being on city council. I’ll continue to use the same skills I used to work together with everyone, with the same goal. Helping Canadians and moving Canadians forward,” said soon to be MP.

The race came with ups and downs for Kayabaga.

Her campaign manager left the campaign about two weeks before the vote, and was replaced by somebody from outside of the riding.

However, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau visited the riding just three days before the vote.

“We were excited and energized to have him here, and to talk about the great things we want to do,” Kayabaga said.

She’ll leave her council seat, and her former colleagues will decide who replaces her for the remaining year on her term.